Conrad Black won’t find comfort from the CEO of his old company, Hollinger Inc. “We have believed for some time that the conduct of Mr. Black and his colleagues was criminal,” G. Wesley Voorheis told me this afternoon. “This is a day of vindication for the prosecution and for innocent shareholders who, frankly, have been screwed.”
A Chicago jury found the former media baron guilty of mail fraud and obstruction of justice today, setting the stage for as much as 35 years in jail.
Voorheis says the verdict “puts an end almost conclusively to Conrad Black’s stated intention to regain control of the Hollinger empire.” Moreover, the stay on the company’s lawsuit against Black and other senior officers is now lifted. Hollinger is also suing three Canadian banks—CIBC, Toronto-Dominion Bank and Bank of Nova Scotia—for more than $65 million, arguing that it knew of Black’s misconduct. Its main asset is a 70% voting and 20% equity interest in the Sun-Times Media Group (formerly Hollinger International), which owns The Chicago Sun-Times.
What is Black actually worth at this point? The trial was full of anecdotes about lavish spending on the company dime—from $565,000 trips to Bora Bora to a $62,000 birthday party for his wife, journalist Barbara Amiel. Prosecutors have already seized nearly US$9 million in proceeds from the sale of his apartment in New York and they’ve sought assets like a $2.6 million ring and a $604,000 pearl broach. With huge legal bills and his holding company, Ravelston, in receivership, you have to wonder how much cash Lord Black actually has at his disposal right now.
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